Lonmin has moved closer to a deal with striking platinum miners after it emerged that workers had cut their basic wage demands.
Miners at the Marikana mine in South Africa have been on strike for more than five weeks, halting production and causing the mining company to warn it could breach its banking covenants at the end of this month.
The strike turned violent last month, culminating in police shooting 34 miners. The unrest has since spread across the country’s 60-mile-wide platinum belt, leaving a total of 45 people dead.
The militant Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) was demanding a pay increase to 12,500 rand (Â£940) a month, but Lonmin said that would put thousands of jobs at risk and challenge the viability of the business. On Monday, the company said it would stop work on a new shaft and would not be hiring 1,200 contract workers.
Bishop Jo Seoka, who has been mediating in the talks between Lonmin and workers at the Marikana mine, said the workers’ demands had come down to below 11,000 rand a month, although this is still significantly more than the offer on the table. Lonmin has offered pay rises of 9-21%,which at most would mean an increase to just 6,534 rand a month.
Seoka remained upbeat about negotiations. He told Reuters on Tuesday: “I’m very confident that something is going to happen today.”
Anglo American Platinum has also been the subject of violent protests and suspended operations last week when strikers marched on its shafts wielding machetes. It said on Tuesday that workers had started trickling back to its Rustenburg mines.
* This story was updated on 19 September, to correct Lonmin’s pay rise offer in paragraph 5 *
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